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(50:01, ‘Astral Travel Agency’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Boogie Night 9:18 2. Winds of Oya 7:10 3. Lamentation of Ancestress 9:17 4. Summer Days, Summer Nights 12:46 5. Domestic Spirits 11:30 LINEUP: Heikki Puska – guitars Ville Vaatainen – drums Kimmo Dammert – bass Samuel Leminen – guitars Antti Lauronen – flute, ney, saxophone With: Jukka Gustavson – Hammond Jenni Sademies – saw Janina Lehto – flute
Prolusion. While neither the band nor their label has an internet presence, other sources have revealed to me that the Finnish band INNER LIGHT ORCHESTRA is a constellation of musicians otherwise active in bands such as Hidria Spacefolk, Uzma and Wasami. "Pearl Moon" is their debut album, recorded from 2008 to 2010, and finally released in November 2012.
Analysis. Inner Light Orchestra joins the ranks of bands that are hard to categorize and difficult to place within a context. In this case it's also a unit I suspect might be a tough sell to at least some members of the prog community, as this is a band that appears to be not overly concerned about conventions as far as music and style is concerned. This is also a case of a band showcasing just how subtle the differences between different genres actually are within a rock music context. A few opening sequences aside, the compositions here are all made with a solid bass and drums foundation at the core of the proceedings. Elaborate and fairly complex when needed, but most of all set up as the constant the other instruments play upon. Saxophone for the first three numbers and flute for the latter two are used to emphasize certain tendencies more than anything as well as providing some of the finer details in the arrangements. Much the same can be said about keyboards and organ when applicable. Dual guitars is the remaining element, providing smoothly operating motifs in a manner that does remind of many space rock bands in terms of approach. The latter element sees the guitars alternating between psychedelic dripping riffs and overlays and harder edged classic rock in a 70's manner, the latter quite often in a way that inspires associations towards the likes of Allman Brothers Band. The psychedelic aspect is the most prominent, although the clear cut and distinctly psychedelic expression isn't as common as the subtler variety of psychedelic oriented guitar motifs. And we're also treated to a fair few detours into gentler fusion oriented territories, with bass or saxophone emphasizing that style when applied and more often than not only briefly visiting that style in a wandering to or from a more psychedelic oriented one. For the final two cuts the fusion aspect is replaced with a folk-tinged one closer to the likes of Jethro Tull, once again most often briefly visited rather than extensively explored. A further detail of interest is that opening cut Boogie Night also features some nice reggae inspired details in its initial phases, as well as a more distinct boogie inspired foundation of the aforementioned Allman Brothers Band oriented kind. The end result is an intriguing production that doesn't really stay put within a style easily defined, but with subtle features of one expression or the other. The overall sound and mood are 70's oriented ones, and that the material at hand is instrumental is probably another fact needful to know.
Conclusion. Inner Light Orchestra has produced an intriguing debut album with "Pearl Moon". Their chosen stylistic expression is one hard to place within a specific, but as psychedelic oriented arrangements dominate a taste for material of that kind will be needed to be able to enjoy this instrumental production. As will a taste for 70's oriented hard rock and occasional flurries into fusion and folk oriented territories. As for who this album will appeal to, I'd guess that those who have albums by the Allman Brother Band side by side with classic Santana in their collection might be something of a key audience, especially those amongst that group who also tend to enjoy psychedelic rock.
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